I really loved this book, which did remind me of Gabriel García Márquez, although it's been a while since I've read anything by him. So maybe it's more that it reminds me of how I remember GGM: epic, earthy Magical Realism.
I love the sharp contrasts of Urrea's writing -- between the earthiness of the setting, the every day magic that takes place and the spiritual side of Teresita; in the various levels of POV, from very distanced, generic descriptions (the People, lengthy lists) to intimate details of individual lives. He created a book which is both sweeping and intimate, which made me feel alternately comfortable and outraged.
This book had me weeping more than once. The incredibly moving story of Teresa Urrea, The Hummingbird's Daughter, is based on a true historical figure who inspired a Mexican revolution, and who also happens to be a distant relation of the author, Luis Alberto Urrea. The first sections describe in realistic detail the impoverished childhood of a mixed-race girl, bastard daughter of a landowner and an Indian worker who abandons her child. However, the girl receives wealth beyond gold when she is taken in by a gifted medicine woman. When Teresa's own powers bloom, she astonishes everyone around her. A gripping tale of a truly good person facing down the evil of our world.
This book is beautifully written and I had the added pleasure of listening to the unabridged audiobook read by the author. This meant that each Mexican name or word was perfectly pronounced and the pace and timing of the poetic prose was set forth before me just as it was intended to be heard. As Urrea explains in an interview, this book is a blend of nonfiction (years and years of research), poetry and storytelling. This exquisite combination brings Teresita, soon to become the Saint of Cabora, magically to life in Nineteenth Century Mexico.